BuzzFeed Emerging Writers Fellowship 2018

BuzzFeed’s Emerging Writers Fellowship is designed to give writers of great promise the support, mentorship, and experience necessary to take a transformative step forward in their careers.

During the four-month program, the writers in this fellowship will benefit from career mentorship and editorial guidance while also receiving financial support. The fellows will focus on personal essay writing, cultural reportage, and criticism.

The three writers selected for the fellowship will work with BuzzFeed News’ senior editorial staff; this is a full-time position based in BuzzFeed’s New York office. The work produced during the fellowship will be published on BuzzFeed. Fellows will receive a stipend of $14,000.

Application Procedure:

Submit the following materials by December 4th, 2017, using this form:

  1. Resume or CV.
  2. 3-5 articles or essays you feel are representative of your best work; work from unpublished manuscripts is fine, too. You may link to them directly or upload them as attachments.
  3. Statement of purpose (3–5 pages in length). Please attach your Statement below where the application asks for “Cover Letter.” Please explain in detail, in separate sections: If given this opportunity, what are 2–3 story ideas you are passionate about pursuing? The fellowship will focus on personal essays, cultural criticism, and reported essays usually under 4,000 words, and pitches should reflect this mix. Give 3–5 examples of cultural reporting, personal essays, features, or books from contemporary writers who have had an impact on your work. What specifically did you learn from each piece? What support would help you move forward in your career? What aspects of writing and cultural reporting are you eager to learn more about?What are your long-term career ambitions?
  4. Two letters of recommendation: Please include the email addresses of your references in the option provided in the application. While your references needn’t all be from professional or academic contacts, they should attest to your standout potential, work ethic, and ability to pursue ambitious ideas and make an impact on cultural conversations.

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The Blog Competition

It’s the time of the semester for the “Iron chef” blog competition. I have grouped the class participants’ blogs with a common theme into four groups focusing on (1)Policy/Social issues, (2) Arts/Industry Review, (3) Lifestyle, and (4) Sports. Each student is required to evaluate the blogs of ALL class members based on the criteria bellow. You are expected to review the blogs as a whole and distribute points in each categories. You will need to justify your score distribution with a supported reason!!!

Review Criteria:

  1. Relevance of topic/information posted (0-5)
  2. Originality (0-5)
  3. Continuity (0-5)
  4. Content & writing (0-5)
  5. The use of technology and multimedia platform (0-5)
  • Optional: 10 extra points

Prizes!!!Prizes!!!!Prizes!!!! The winners of the first place in each group will be awarded:

  • Grade A for the assignment
  • A free Valenti School logo T-Shirt

Group members:

Policy/Social issues

  • Alyssa Foley – education
  • Emily Freeman – immigration
  • Bethel Biru – Black women & black culture
  • Lacey Cink – The effects of social media
  • Nick Williamson – Social issues in Sports
  • Sara Stelling – Borderline Disorder

Arts/Industry Review

  • Brandon Barber – Movie reviews
  • Sam Byrd – Theatre reviews
  • Brenda Ruiz – Latino dance
  • Natasha Ero – Hollywood
  • Michelle Loyla – Fashion History


  • Cataryna Galan – Houston bars
  • Hanieh Karimaghaee – Cooking
  • Natalie Martinez – Lifestyle
  • Rolando Recendez – Travel
  • Travis Forward – Life on campus


  • Emmanuel Gonzales – America’s soccer dream
  • Rebal Shurbaji – Soccer
  • Steven Erazo – Wrestling
  • Taylor Marron – Women football fans
  • J. Leibowitz – UH sports

The Dates for the competition are the following:

  • Policy/Social Issues – November 27th
  • Arts/Industry Review – November 27rd
  • Lifestyle – November 30th
  • Sports – November 30th

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Live Event Review

For your last out-of-class graded assignment, I ask you to attend an arts event in Houston and write a review/commentary on that event that will be submitted to the Daily Cougar or the Houston Chronicle.

I leave it up to you what type of arts performance you would like to review for this assignment. However, the criteria are: this must be a (1) professional and (2) live type of arts performance. What qualifies:

  1. Live concerts
  2. Theater performances
  3. Comedies
  4. Opera and ballet
  5. Visual Art exhibits (new and temporary/traveling exhibits at museums, excluding permanent collections)

You can find information about what’s going on in Houston arts scene at:

They also have a list of free events you can attend at:

Suggestions on how to write a great piece:

  • Review an art’s event that is timely
  • Use your reporting skills to provide your readers with the facts: Answer the ‘Who,’ ‘What’ and ‘Why’ questions, and use your judgment if to report on the rest of the W questions.
  • Besides providing your readers with the facts, insert your opinion while answering the “Who” and ‘What’ questions. Provide interpretation of the art or/and the artists you are reviewing.
  • When inserting your own opinion, answer the question “Why” (why do you think that way?)
  • Write your piece with your audiences in mind (UH students or Houstonians that read the Chronicle). Write for outsiders.
  • Write in short clear sentences.
  • Limit your column between 400- 500 words.
  • Submit your column on Blackboard.
  • Due Date: December 8th, by 01:00pm.
  • Have fun. Energy, humanity, and creativity are rewarded in this business.

Also, I strongly suggest you read how other people write reviews in most prestigious publications in order to learn from the BEST! Here are a couple of suggestions:

The New York Times arts page

The Washington Post entertainment page

The New Yorker (specialized in art)

The Houston Chronicle entertainment page

The Rolling Stones (specialized in music)

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Mike McGuff: Blogging Opens Many Doors!

During his recent visit to our COMM 4314 class, Mike McGuff delivered an inspiring lecture on reasons for blogging in the news industry and provided immensely useful tips on tools bloggers need in order to be successful.

Mike McGuff is a successful native Houstonian blogger who blogs about the television industry in Houston. He has been blogging since 2005. Before that, McGuff has been working in the broadcast news industry for more than 20 years. He has worked at KTRK 13 as a producer and web producer, TV reporter at KIAH 39 and social media consultant to KPRC 2.

“I started blogging to get freedom from news producers and the editors, and the whole organizational structure in the broadcast news business,” said Mike.

Mike’s blog gets about one million readers in a year and has earned him several awards in the industry.

“I see it as a public service to write about the broadcasting news industry,” he explained his views on his current work.

Elaborating further his motivations for blogging, McGuff listed several reasons as follows:

  • Blogging opens doors!

In addition to writing in him blog, McGuff also works as a broadcast freelancer for national and international media. He claimed that that’s how news producers learn about his work, by finding his blog. Most recently, he has been working a correspondent for ITV network news based in London show “Good Morning London.” He was initially recruited to report on the Harvey storm from Houston.

“The blog is my resume.”

  • Keep up with the industry!

Mike’s blog covers a niche and a void in the news industry about the broadcasting media. Most local news media have stopped or do not offer in-depth analysis of the local broadcast media, which is a multi-million dollar industry. His blog fills in this niche, by providing information about the most recent developments in the industry.

  • The money!

Even though, he has a large audience and the blog does make some money, Mike claims that it is not nearly enough. The reason for why he has not commercialized his blog further, is his attachment to the journalism industry. He considers himself a journalist above all.

“There are lots of bloggers out there that play out advertisers stuff. As a journalist, I find it weird to get paid for a story,” says Mike. He considers that would compromise his integrity as a reporter and probably close some of the journalism doors as a result. So, he says that a journalist should always ask him/herself :”Does this action block me from doing journalism work? You have to think about this, if you want to continue to work as a journalist.”

  • Allows me to be a stay-at home dad!

When own his father died prematurely from a disease, Mike realized the importance of spending as much time with his own children as possible. He has two children.

Bloggers’ essential tools, by Mike McGuff:

  1. Google Analytics – gives you the digital analytics tools you need to analyze data for a deeper understanding of your audiences.
  2. Google Adsense – is a free, simple way to make money online by placing ads on your website.
  3. Adobe Photoshop – photo editing and manipulation.
  4. WayBackMachine – enables you to capture, manage and search collections of digital content without any technical expertise or hosting facilities.
  5. Feedly Reader – Your central place to organize, read, and share the information you need to stay ahead of the next big trend in your industry.
  6. Google News Alerts – a tool to monitor the web for interesting news content on topics of your choice.
  7. Twitter & Facebook pages – social media sites that help you reach out to potentially large audiences.
  8. Hootsuite – is a social media management platform, created by Ryan Holmes in 2008. The system’s user interface takes the form of a dashboard, and supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and many more.
  9. Buffer – is an intuitive social media management platform trusted by brands, businesses, agencies, and individuals to help drive social media results.
  10. Social Searcher – free social media search engine.

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Group Editorial project

This assignment is a group project that aims at training you to work within a larger editorial board, negotiate and develop a voice that represents an issue from different perspectives. In this assignment, you are allowed to have independent voices, thus all the group members do not have to agree on the position on the issue you select as a group. Each group member will write an individual opinion piece as a series of columns that deal with the same issue. The final product of this group project will be your graded assignment, the ‘Group Editorial 1’ assignment. The final piece will be worth 100 points & the peer column critique will be worth 50 points. Timeline of the project:

Tasks for Wednesday, October 25th

  • First, divide students in groups. Each group will be assigned an editorial topic.
  • Second, each group needs to pick one issue to write a series of editorials. Meet as a group in class to discuss the issue you want to write about within your group topic (example: if your topic is campus news; an issue might be campus parking). During class time, each of you needs to do your research on the issue you agreed together. Each group member needs to identify an angle of the issue to address in their piece
  • Third, each group member needs to write an individual editorial on the issue you agreed upon. For more guidelines on how to write a column see the attached sheet.
  • Submit your first draft on Blackboard in “Group editorial 1- first draft”
  • Due date: October 30th, 12 p.m.

Tasks for Monday, October 30th:

  • Forth, each student needs to share their editorial with their group members and prepare to comment on other members’ work. On Monday, group members will meet with each other (without me) to discuss your first drafts and distribute copies. Bring the first draft of your column to the meeting (make copies for each group member)
  • Fifth, each group member will be assigned to critique another person’s work. After Monday’s group meeting, you’ll need to write a 300-350 word critique on your assigned student work, commenting on the strength of the arguments presented, the reporting done (the evidence), and the writing style of the editorial.
  • Submit your critique on Blackboard in “Group Editorial 1- critique”
  • Due Date: Wednesday, November 1st , 12p.m.

 Tasks for Wednesday, November 1st  (time varies depending on the group meeting)

  • Sixth, each group meets individually with me to critique their work. Each group member will receive feed-back on their first draft. Bring with you printed copies of your critique for the student assigned, and be prepared to provide oral feedback to the other group members

Tasks for Monday, November 6th:

  • Seventh, each group member will rewrite his/her editorial and submit it to be graded. I expect you to incorporate the comments you received and address all the issues and critique
  • The final draft needs to be submitted on Blackboard to be graded
  • Due date: November 6th, 12 p.m.

 Guidelines on how to write the Group Editorial

Your final product for this assignment will be a newspaper column on the topic you coordinated within your group that will be submitted to the Daily Cougar or the Houston Chronicle.

  • Write a column that is timely — tied to news (emphasis on NEW) events and ongoing issues.
  • Write your opinion piece on a unique topic. Review recent editions of The Daily Cougar and the Houston Chronicle to see what’s been covered recently. Find something different.
  • Write your piece with your audiences in mind (UH students or Houstonians that read the Chronicle). In order to determine the density and choice of your arguments and facts, consider how receptive your audiences might be to your thesis (point of view).
  • Use unique angles for column topics that have been “done to death.”
  • Limit the use of first person (“I,” “me,” “my,” “we,” “our”) to personal stories that you include in the column. The rest of the column should be in third person voice.
  • Don’t start your column with “I hate ____________ at UH” and then rant about the issue for the rest of the piece. You need to be thoughtful, build arguments and supply plenty of evidence that support your arguments.
  • Write in short sentences.
  • Limit your column to 500-700 words.
  • Submit your column on Blackboard, under “Group Editorial 1” assignment.
  • Have fun. Energy, humanity, and creativity are rewarded in this business.

This assignment is worth 100 points and it will be evaluated based on:

  1. The relevance and timeliness of the topic you choose to write on.
  2. The originality of your approach to tackling the issue from a NEW angle.
  3. How well your column engages your reader by evoking logos/ethos/pathos.
  4. Column organization and argument structure.
  5. Thoroughness 1, number of arguments used to support your thesis.
  6. Thoroughness 2, number of sources you use to support your argument.
  7. Relevance of the facts used in your story. How well the facts you use support your arguments.
  8. The quality, coherence and accuracy of your writing; whether you follow standard style; and, finally, whether your grammar and spelling are flawless.

*Please take the time to read and re-read your story before submitting it to me. Double check all your spelling, especially the spelling of proper names.

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